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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

Hard-to-fill positions: Health & Social Services take the lead again

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A shortage of candidates for high-demand positions continued in the first month of 2022. Care assistant, support worker, customer service manager, nurse, and kitchen assistant were the hardest to fill positions for direct employers that should be taken into account.

As for job categories, the labour deficit was led by Health, Hospitality & Catering, Social & Civil Services, Logistics, and Customer Services in January, according to Job Market Insights.

Growth in demand for staff slowed down in the last few months, with 1 million jobs posted in January, a figure that was reached in June 2021 for the first time since the start of the pandemic and has remained stable. However, the number of hard-to-fill vacancies stayed high, with some significant variations. Logistics and Retail job categories saw a decrease in their number of unfilled positions in January, while Social Services and Health went up in the ranking, and Hospitality remained stable.

This in-depth information helps recruiters identify hot leads—positions and companies in desperate need of qualified candidates.

Top Hard-to-Fill Job Titles - January 2022

  • Care assistant 
  • Support worker
  • Customer service manager
  • Nurse
  • Kitchen assistant

Top Hard-to-Fill Job Categories - January 2022

  • Health
  • Hospitality & Catering
  • Social & Civil Services
  • Logistics & Distribution
  • Customer service

Hot Leads per Job Category

  •  Health jobs represented 12% of all hard-to-fill positions in January, perpetuating the shortage of care assistants seen in previous months.

Hard-to-Fill Jobs - Health - January 2022

  • Care assistant 
  • Nurse
  • Dental nurse
  • Although the Hospitality & Catering job sector is still struggling to cover all the open positions after the easing of Covid restrictions, the salaries being offered for hard-to-fill positions were below the average in this category.  More than 50% of these vacancies offer salaries of £20,000 or below.

Hard-to-Fill Jobs - Hospitality & Catering - January 2022

  • Kitchen assistant 
  • Chef
  • Barista
  •  Logistics & Distribution saw a slight decrease in the top categories of hard-to-fill positions. However, the shortage of drivers remained high.

Delivery driverHard-to-Fill Jobs - Logistics & Distribution - January 2022

  • Warehouse operative
  • Bike courier (food & grocery deliveries)

What positions are recruitment agencies struggling to cover?

 Positions in Logistics, IT, Finance, Education, and Engineering are the ones that take the longest to cover for recruitment agencies.

Warehouse operative, teaching assistant, customer service advisor, production operative, and support worker were the top five hard-to-fill positions for recruiters in January 2022.


Source and methodology

This analysis is based on Job Market Insights data, the labour market intelligence tool that combines data from all major job boards and employment sites across the UK. Hard-to-fill positions are vacancies being posted on paid sites multiple times with periods of at least 2 weeks in-between.

Job Market Insights is a big data analytics tool that provides a 360º view of the labour market. It is an REC Business Partner—some REC's members already use Job Market Insights to better analyse, compare and understand employment trends, identify who is hiring, track competitor behaviour and detect business opportunities with accurate, up-to-date information. Job Market Insights is part of Adevinta, a leading online classifieds specialist, operating digital marketplaces in 15 countries